Reading Recommendations · Beyond Bestsellers: Notable New Fiction Titles (August 2013)
Only a few books reach the top of the fiction bestseller charts, but there are many more terrific new titles available at the Library. Here are some recent favorites.
Em Moore, the E and “more” half of author T. E. Blakemore, is an agoraphobic ghostwriter who waits for interview tapes from her extroverted partner, Teddy Blake, and turns them into best-selling celebrity bios. When Teddy dies in a car accident, Em is determined to finish the current job. The subject, reclusive actor-director Garrett Malcolm, is working on a production of Hamlet at a theater on his estate. Charming and secretive, Malcolm invites Em to move in and get to know him. A dramatic stand-alone from the author of the Carlotta Carlyle mystery series.
“Harper Curtis is a killer who just stepped out of the past. Kirby Mazrachi is the girl who was never meant to have a future.” Propelled out the front door of the House and into different years, Harper has a perfect serial killer existence – only appearing to commit the crime and completely disappearing so the police have no one to look for – until Kirby survives. Undoubtedly one of the most page-turning, stay-up-all-night books of 2013, The Shining Girls has been optioned for a TV mini-season, meaning each shining girl can have an episode before her demise.
Combining a pirate story with a culinary feast is certainly not typical fare for a novel, but Brown pulls off the excitement and swash-buckling action of the high seas with mouth-watering passages. When pirate queen Mad Hannah Mabbot interrupts a seaside dinner party, she kidnaps the chef. Setting sail for the Indian Ocean, chasing a privateer involved in the opium trade, Hannah promises to keep her prisoner alive in exchange for a delicious gourmet meal every Sunday. It’s slim pickings in the larder on a pirate ship in the middle of the ocean.
Grecian introduced the Scotland Yard Murder Squad in last year’s critically acclaimed The Yard, a Jack the Ripper type tale. As good as that debut was, the author has continued to raise the bar with a case that takes Inspector Day and his assistant out of London to the gritty, bleak coal-mining Midlands where an eyeball has turned up in a bird’s nest, people have gone missing, and a local plague has broken out. Blackhampton seems to be a village cursed, and indeed many of the residents consider it so. Lots of plot twists and powerful atmosphere command attention.
When 17-year-old Molly is sentenced to community service hours, she has no idea that a 91-year-old woman will change her worldview. Molly intends to just help clean out Vivian’s attic and move on, surprised that this foster family hasn’t already sent her on her way already. What she finds is a kindred spirit. Vivian was one of the many east coast orphans put on trains and sent to the Midwest in search of new families. This touching and inspirational tale highlights a little-known event in history and confirms the support multi-generations can offer each other.
Kushner’s debut novel, Telex from Cuba, was a finalist for the National Book Award so this sophomore effort has gotten a lot of attention. The 1970s art scene is the setting for most of the story, where a couple concentrates on their pursuit of art. Besides their attempted careers, a motorcycle connects the two, sculptor Sandro being the heir to the Italian moto-company and Reno who uses a Valera in her art and has been asked to join the company’s racing team. The political and social scene of the 1970s provides fodder for the couple’s turbulent relationship.
This wild and edgy novel won’t be to everyone’s liking, but those willing to work a bit will surely enjoy this comment on the depersonalization of society. Thurlow Dan founded an online service to end loneliness in modern society. The Helix (headquartered in Cincinnati) is such a success that it has morphed into a cult status, yet no one could be lonelier than Dan who believes his ultimate happiness rests with his ex-wife and daughter. Ironically his ex-wife Esme, a master of disguise, has been unrecognized on the sidelines, protecting him from the government.
Marra’s debut novel is heralded as a summer 2013 critics’ “don’t miss.” It takes place in Chechnya in 2004, where a small village is under brutal takeover by the Russians. Sonja Rabina is the only doctor left in a deserted hospital when a stranger arrives with a healthy girl to leave in her care. While the heart-wrenching descriptions are unsettling to read, the story holds hope that family and personal connections rise above the horror of physical discomfort. An immensely moving and ambitious story of the triumph of spirit during the devastation of war.
Eyes closed and at the sword’s edge of death on the battlefield, Lord Nicholas Falcott opens his eyes to see a hospital ward in modern London and to find that he has been chosen as a member of the Guild, a secret society of time travellers. Adapting to the 21st century has been fairly easy, but he suddenly is called by the Guild to break their supreme rule of no return. He reappears in 1815 on a mission to hunt down enemies of the group and find the Talisman they seek, conveniently reconnecting him with the beautiful Julia Percy who is in need of a hero.
Jilting her childhood beau and abandoning a comfortable if predictably routine life, Trudy Swann opts for passion and adventure beyond the norm for a Milwaukee young woman in the 1890s. Marrying a man she barely knows and moving to California to work in a lighthouse, Trudy is left with the wild ocean shore around her and the other keeper’s family. Her ill-suited choice of a spouse becomes apparent in their contrasting treatment of what they discover on the island. Another good book club choice from the author of the Oprah pick, Drowning Ruth.
Need more suggestions? Contact your local branch and our staff will be happy to assist you!